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Leisure Media - Thierry Malleret

Spa People

Thierry Malleret

Nature is a formidable antidote to many of today’s ills

Photo: Shutterstock/Sander van der Werf
There has been a rise in fitness festivals in recent years Photo: Shutterstock/Adam Hodges
Wars and conflicts destroy wellbeing Photo: Shutterstock/Volodymyr TVERDOKHLIB

What trends do you see?
One of the most significant is the remarkable emergence of nature in the wellness space.

The clear message that has emerged from the pandemic is that nature is a formidable antidote to many of today’s ills. Nature makes us feel good, it eases psychological and physical pain and is associated with a multitude of benefits in terms of physical and mental wellbeing. In the foreseeable future, wellness companies that miss this obvious trend will find themselves in a precarious situation.

What have you been enjoying personally?
Being based in the mountain resort of Chamonix in the French Alps, I’m very attentive to what happens in nature in the mountains, and the way in which this connects with the wellness industry.

For a while, I’ve been observing an explosion of wellness and fitness festivals. Typically, they combine trail or ultra-trail running with music, often good organic, food and immersion in nature. They constitute a new form of wellness practice, more focused on fitness but also associated with other forms of pleasure. I think these will grow exponentially in the coming years because they appeal very much to the younger generations.

What are the most critical challenges we’re facing?
We face an abundance of issues that will radically alter how industries and companies operate, but the one that overrides all the others is climate change.

It’s no exaggeration to state that it’s an existential threat for many people and regions around the world and also that it’s going to get worse and exacerbate all the other issues – making conflict more likely, rendering inequalities more sharply and so on.

The wellness industry – like all the others – will need to change and adjust.

There are many ways to move forward, but only one overwhelming consideration: we must reduce carbon emissions and protect nature. The wellness industry, because of the values it embodies – must be at the forefront of this ‘battle’ – but this is not the case yet. The longer it waits, the greater the cost of the adjustment.

Will the war in Ukraine impact the industry?
Apart from wellness operators actually in Ukraine, the war won’t change the wellness industry. However, it will dramatically change our overall appreciation of wellbeing (happiness, or ‘subjective wellbeing’ in the scientific jargon).

Today, there are many conflicts in the world, and each makes it plain that ‘feeling well’ in a situation of conflict is an impossibility.

Physical security is an absolute prerequisite to experiencing wellbeing and enjoying the benefits of wellness. This is true as in Ukraine, as it is in Yemen, Ethiopia and in any country and region which is a victim of a war or civil conflict. Wars are also anxiety-inducing for those not directly affected, but impacted by fear of the increased possibility of a conflict. In short: wars and conflicts destroy wellbeing.

What other threats and opportunities do you see?
Forecasting is a perilous exercise. At the moment every nation and region faces its own challenges, which conflate with those of others. Take the example of the strong US dollar – this is up by 15 per cent over the past year against a basket of currencies and except for commodity exporters, global companies with US dollar earnings and American tourists this is making everybody’s lives more difficult.

There’s no immediate respite in relation to this situation in sight because it’s hard to think of what could break the multi-year strong US dollar ‘super cycle’. The dollar’s strength is an acute problem for many emerging markets with high levels of US dollar-denominated debt, whether sovereign or private.

For wellness and wellness travel markets, the biggest threat is not economic, but geopolitical: the world’s fragmentation, the retreat of globalisation and the fact that some countries are ‘retrenching’ and turning in on themselves.

More: www.monthlybarometer.com

Photo: Quentin Iglésis

Malleret says many global factors are affecting wellbeing

Global factors affecting wellbeing
Thierry Malleret shares insights
Economic uncertainty

Rates of inflation, how far will interest rates rise and global indebtedness

Geopolitical turmoil

Something that’s evident across the globe

Societal issues

Social inequities and polarisation

Environmental degradation

Nature and climate change are the two sides of the same coin, with dramatic problems flaring up everywhere

Tech innovation

Where will it lead us? Towards utopia, dystopia or somewhere in-between?

Climate change is a threat to many people around the world / Photo: Shutterstock/Rajat Chamria

Originally published in Spa Business 2022 issue 3
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